If there's one topic that we regularly discuss that many of our readers (even those who agree with us on most other things) disagree with us on, it would be mandatory a la carte cable. We've explained repeatedly why forcing cable companies to offer a la carte cable is a bad idea
that would likely lead to higher prices
and less choice. Yet people still argue against it, claiming (incorrectly) that they would just order a few channels and prices would decrease. Instead, those fewer channels would inevitably cost a lot more (if they were still available at all) because a la carte pricing for channels reduces demand for individual channels, resulting in higher (not lower) prices per channel. Jeff Eisenach and Adam Thierer have put together a short report looking at the problems of a la carte cable
, and noting that even if the intentions of those supporting mandatory a la carte cable are strong, the end result isn't likely to be what they'd expect.
On top of that, it's probably worth pointing out that this debate may soon be moot anyway. As we move increasingly to a world where most TV programs are available online, the entire concept of the channel will go away
. It won't matter what channel a particular program is on, because you'll just subscribe to that program, and it will get delivered over the internet. In the meantime, though, there's simply no reason to force cable companies into providing a la carte channel selections.